Small Businesses

A Case Study in Learning and Change

 

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Waverton Publishing Ltd (WPL) was established in Warwickshire 20 years ago by an entrepreneur named Andrew Cox, to publish home improvement magazines. These magazines are aimed at small businesses who provide decorating, renovating, maintenance, kitchen and bathroom installations, home-extensions and home design services, mainly to the domestic UK market.

It is a small company employing eighteen people, who work on producing four magazines every month. The four magazines are called: “Homes and Home Improvement” focussing on renovation/building work; “Homes and Outdoor Spaces” focussing on homes and gardens; “Homes and Furnishing” focussing on furniture and soft furnishings; and “Homes and Decor” focussing on decorating.

The company is successful because it attracts both readers who are DIY enthusiasts, as well as small businesses. The staff of eighteen people comprises Andrew Cox as Managing Director, his wife Padma as general manager, four editors (one for each magazine), four journalists/ writers (one for each magazine), two sales staff (who sell the advertising space that substantially funds the company), one sales representative (selling the magazine to retail outlets, bookshops, DIY stores and garden centres etc), and five staff who print the hard copies of the magazines. The workforce relations are very good, rather like an extended family, with most people having worked at Waverton Publishing Ltd for more than ten years. They currently operate from a large office with a medium-sized factory unit. For more information visit, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_business

 

Although business has always been sound, Andrew and Padma had to take measures to move publications online during the 2020 pandemic when staff were required to work from home. They now seek to reduce the running costs for the business, so that they can protect the company against fluctuations and uncertainty.

To achieve this, they plan to reduce some ‘building-based’ costs. They plan to do two things: firstly, to sell the existing office and workshop unit before building maintenance costs become an issue and to pay of the remaining loan they still have on the premises. They then plan to rent a much smaller workshop, with a very small office within the workshop, just for the printing staff and with a ‘hot desk’ and a team-meetings space; secondly, they plan to arrange for the remaining staff to continue to work from home for four days each week, with team meetings on site on Monday mornings (to plan the week) and on Friday afternoons to debrief following lunch, which is also viewed as an opportunity to socialise and maintain the strong culture of the organisation. This will coincide with trialling moving two of the magazines online permanently, on a newly commissioned website: ‘Homes and Home Improvements’; and ‘Homes and Furnishings’. The rationale for this is that the other two magazines sell well in DIY and garden centres, but that people often look online for renovation ideas/services and furnishings. They are bringing in a new employee, an online journalist, to help carry this forward.

Waverton Publishing Ltd should survive by adapting in this way which the existing staff do recognise, but it will mean changes for the staff….

 

YOUR TASK:

Answer the following two questions, noting the weighting of marks available for each question. Remember that responses should be theoretically informed, should include academic references, and must be related to the case study.

1. How might Waverton Publishing Ltd use learning and development to address some of the potential issues it will need to deal with, and which L&D strategies or methodologies might be helpful for the different groups of learners?

60 marks

2. Waverton Publishing Ltd will clearly be subject to Change (in respect of scale, scope, complexity, etc). What issues might these Changes generate, and how might this be managed?

40 marks

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